With a depth of 10,730 feet, Peru’s Colca Canyon is known as the world’s deepest canyon.
Often compared with the Grand Canyon, it is a stunning natural attraction that we didn’t want to miss, especially to see the massive Andean Condors, among the largest birds, that live on the edges of the canyon.
There are typically two ways to visit Colca Canyon, about 2 hours outside of Arequipa – either as a long day trip to visit the Cruz del Condor viewpoint or to do an overnight, hiking into the canyon, spending the night then hiking out the following day. Both of those options require an early, early wake-up call for a 3am bus ride.
We decided on the less typical tour with Colca Trek, a two day trip with an overnight at a beautiful lodge at the top of the canyon. We would hike, bike and explore different sites than the traditional tours. Plus we got to leave Arequipa at a much more reasonable hour – 8:30am. Sold.
We hiked near the volcanoes of Ampato, Sabancaya, Hualca Hualca and Mismi, learning about the beautiful landscapes, unique local plant life that only grows at the high elevations, and the wild vicuñas, like miniature wild llamas.
The incredible views continued when we arrived at the lodge. Each room overlooks the canyon and the gorgeous mountains surrounding it. Absolutely breathtaking.
As we spent the night at the canyon, we were also able to enjoy sunrise at Cruz del Condor, thereby beating all the tourist buses. We got to experience the first flights of the massive birds without crowds, watching them fly from their nests on the shady side of the canyon to the other where they would bask in the early sunshine.
From there we biked downhill, carefully trying to take in the gorgeous valley without crashing. (It’s harder than you may think.)
The trip concluded with a dip in a natural hot springs followed by another delicious meal of local food (think potatoes smothered in a delicious peanut-based cheese sauce, quinoa and cheese soap, pumpkin stew with large broad beans, and various grilled meats).
A spectacular two days, I wished it had been a longer trip!